Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan

Special Seminar - Dr. Timothy McConnochie

Date: September 1, 2017
Time: 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Location: Donahue Room SRB 2422

Our guest for this week's CLaSP Seminar Series will be Professor Fran Bagenal, of the of the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). Please join us! 

Title: "ChemCam Passive Sky Spectroscopy at Gale Crater, Mars: Measuring Water Vapor, Molecular Oxygen, and Aerosols"

Abstract:  Juno’s principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Underneath its dense cloud cover, Jupiter safeguards secrets to the fundamental processes and conditions that governed our solar system during its formation. As our primary example of a giant planet, Jupiter can also provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars. With its suite of science instruments, Juno is investigating the existence of a solid planetary core, mapping Jupiter’s intense magnetic field, measuring the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, as well as taking stunning pictures of the cloud systems with the citizen-science camera.  Taking advantage of its polar orbit, JUNO is also the first spacecraft to fly over Jupiter’s aurora and is measuring both the energetic particles raining down on the planet and the bright “northern & southern lights” they excite. NASA’s JUNO mission was launched in August 2011 and went into orbit over Jupiter’s poles on 4th July 2016. 

Biography: 

The Mars Science Laboratory’s (MSL) ChemCam spectrometer measures atmospheric aerosol properties and gas abundances by operating in passive mode and observing scattered sky light at two different elevation angles. ChemCam was designed primarily for laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) of Martian surface materials but it has been used extensively for both imaging and passive spectroscopy. In this talk we discuss the methodology and initial results of ChemCam passive sky spectroscopy with ChemCam’s VNIR (visible and near infrared) spectrometer. Among the results that we have obtained thus far, the most interesting and arguably surprising are: (1) a depletion of the column water vapor at Gale Crater relative to that of the surrounding region combined with a strong enhancement of the local column water vapor relative to pre-dawn in-situ measurements, (2) an interannual change in the effective particle size of dust aerosol during the aphelion season, and (3) an apparent seasonal and interannual variability in molecular oxygen that differs significantly from the expected behavior of a non-condensable trace gas and differs significantly from global climate model expectations. For the ChemCam passive sky molecular oxygen results we are still working to constrain the uncertainties well enough to confirm the observed surprising behavior, motivated by similarly surprising atmospheric molecular oxygen variability observed by MSL’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.

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